Ilham Tohti sentenced to Life in Prison: “The Price our People have to Pay”

Ilham Tohti (伊力哈木·土赫提), an associate economics professor at Beijing’s Minzu University, has been sentenced to life in prison, reports CNN. The Intermediate People’s Court in Urumqi found Tohti “guilty of separatism”, according to CNN. According to the report, the court also ordered the confiscation of all of Tohti’s assets. Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原), one of Tohti’s lawyers, reportedly said that he and Tohti had been prepared for a guilty verdict and that they would appeal.

A post by Tibetan poet and blogger Tsering Woeser says that the verdict and sentence were announced at ten in the morning local time. According from a Tweet by Liu Xiaoyuan quoted by Woeser, Tohti said that he would not give in, and that he protested against the verdict. Tohti’s daughter Jewher Ilham who is currently in the U.S. is quoted as tweeting that she, too, protested against the verdict. His wife Guzaili Nu’er (古再努尔) who had followed the trial was in tears.

Wang Lixiong, Woeser’s husband and a tibetologist, wrote that “on September 23, the authorities have created an Uighur Mandela.” However, he did not believe that Tohti would remain behind bars forever, “because the delay of justice won’t last forever.”

Woeser also posted what Tohti had told her in an interview conducted in 2009 – lines that she feels seem to be his answer to the court’s sentence of today:

因言论获罪,因为办了媒体获罪,因为说了真话获罪
Where you can go to jail for what you say, for running a website, for just speaking the truth
我愿意,我觉得是很荣耀的事情
Which for me would be an honor
而且真的那种时刻出现的话
As I’ve said before
我以前就说过,用我卑微的生命呼唤自由
To trade my humble life to call for freedom
这是幸福的事情,骄傲的事情
Gladly, I’d be proud to
所以这不应该是很痛苦的
So this probably won’t hurt much
短期,一听的时候可能紧张,我有过
The thought makes me nervous, but not for long
但可能只持续几分钟,甚至可能是几个小时
A few minutes, or at most a few hours
我唯一的牵挂就是母亲和孩子们
My only concern is for mother and the children
要是判死刑,我有心理准备
I’m even prepared for the possibility of a death sentence
这也许是我们民族的人要付出的代价吧
That just might be the price our people have to pay
我伊力哈木付出代价,虽然把我送进去
When I, Ilham Tohti, pay that price; then though I may have to  go in
可能更能引起对我们民族的关注
Perhaps that will draw more attention to the plight of our people
可能引起更多的思考
People will think more about it
可能引起我们民族内部、还有外边的……
And perhaps more people will know about me
更何况很多汉人、很多外国的朋友、很多不同民族的朋友知道我
Uyghur, Han, foreign friends, people from other ethnic groups
而且知道我的理念
Will learn about me and my ideas
我不是暴力的,我没有任何违法的事情
Learn that I was not violent, hadn’t broken any law
只不过,我真的努力想发表一些声音
And that I only tried  hard to make our voice heard
努力把我们的文化,我们的一些情况…
And to speak about our culture and our situation…
虽然我们做的不好
Although we’ve not been perfect
还有,我认为我不在的话“维吾尔在线”可能搞的更好
And, I think Uyghur Online could be even better run if I weren’t around
将来很多朋友,像你这样的朋友,我相信你们的良知
I believe in the conscience of my friends, friends like you
有人说我是维吾尔的良知,我不够格
Some say I’m the Uyghur people’s conscience, I think that overstates it / I can’t live up to that
我希望维吾尔人的良知在我身上体现
I hope to see the Uyghur people’s conscience in  many others
像在很多人的身上体现
Not just in me.
我尽量成为有良知的人,对民族有良知的人
I’ve done my best to be a person of conscience, conscience toward the Uyghur people
要成为民族的良知是很骄傲的
That’s something to be proud of
我是很幸运的呀
And indeed I am lucky
我很骄傲,若我真的做到的话
And proud, if I can truly be that person
而且我也想,我有生之年要是能创造出某种理论或者模式
And I think, if with the time I have left, I can come up with ideas, with a model
维吾尔人能和平地争取自治的权利,一种抗争的模式
A way for Uyghurs to struggle peacefully for their right to autonomy, a mode of resistance
而且能够取得主流社会的认同,我觉得死了也很幸福的
And win acceptance from mainstream society, my death will have been worth that
我不喜欢暴力,我不会提倡暴力
I don’t like violence and I won’t advocate it
我并不认为汉民族是我们的敌人
And I definitely don’t think the Han are our enemy
哪怕是再这样,仇恨、仇杀发生的时候
Not even if racial hatred or killings should happen again
甚至发生民族屠杀的时候
Even if genocide were to happen
我也会呼吁:汉民族应该是我们的朋友
I would still say: the Han should be our friends!
我也会说出:我们应该成为朋友而不是敌人
I would say: We should be friends, not enemies
但是这个国家什么事都会发生
But in this country anything is possible
所以呢,你都会随时有准备
Which is why I’m already prepared
你没有想过的很惨的事情,也会发生在你的家庭,你的身上…
That the unthinkable could happen, to your family or yourself
我也有疑虑,当把我污名化的时候
I have doubts, like when they smear my name
比如,说我卖白粉、说我卖武器、说我组织过暴力
Say I peddled coke or sold weapons, or organized violence
我是东突恐怖分子,甚至说他去过拉登的基地
Or that I’m an East Turkestan terrorist, or even that I’ve trained with Bin Laden
他是拉登的人,他是美国的特务
That I’m agent of his, or America’s
他是热比亚的人,他是世维会在中国的什么……
Or that I work for Rebiya Kadeer, or I’m the World Uyghur Congress’ man in China, etc…
我不知道,反正各种的东西……
I don’t know, all sorts of stuff…
所以呢,很多东西无所谓,应该勇敢地面对
So whatever happens, we should face it with courage
当然呢,我是很希望到时候依法处理,这是一
Of course, first, I want to see things done according to law
二,很希望不要因为我而和汉民族之间发生仇恨的事情
And second, I don’t want to see any conflicts/tension? with the Han just because of me
当然呢,我也不希望这个时候没有维吾尔人的声音
And I hope when the time comes, we will hear Uyghur
汉人的声音,理性的声音
And Han people speak up, we will hear the voice of reason?
这是我对汉民族的期望,对维吾尔民族的期望
This is my hope for the Han people and for the Uyghurs
对两者的期望
My hope for both peoples
第三呢,我很希望,哪怕出现死亡的事情,把我埋在新疆
Third, I hope that if I do end up dead, I’m buried in Xinjiang
就是维吾尔人的家园
Which is home for Uyghurs
哪怕是冰山上,哪怕在沙漠或是路边
It could be on an iceberg, in the desert, even by the side of the road
我希望别让我的遗体留在新疆之外的地区
I just don’t want my body to be buried outside of Xinjiang
然后,最担心的就是孩子了
Lastly, I worry most about my children
怕他们遭到迫害,因为他们已经遭到了迫害
I’m afraid they’ll face persecution, more than they already have
他们没有学校上,旁听生
Forced to merely audit classes at schools that won’t take them as regular students
我怕到那时候旁听生都没有了
I’m afraid later they won’t even be able to audit classes
小孩儿会很茫然,不知道(怎么办)
My kids will be lost, and there won’t be anything I can do
我相信我女儿的良知,她很不一样
I believe in my daughter, there’s something special about her.
她受我影响很大,我相信她的良知
I have influenced her a lot/Much of what she knows she learned from me, I trust her conscience
她会成为一个有道德,爱自己的民族,爱人的人
I trust that she will grow into a moral person who loves her people, loves all people
我就担心她遭到迫害
But I worry people will go after her
还有一个担心,妻子现在又有孩子了
My other worry stems from my wife, who is now again pregnant
她没有工作,将来回新疆也不可能有工作
She’s unemployed now, and when she returns to Xinjiang she will not be able to find work
就是我将来的孩子……我妈妈也老了
My future child, and my mother who is getting on…
我就担心我家的两个孩子…
I’m worried about my two children…
但可能很残忍的,虽然很担心……明白吧?
It could all end tragically, in spite of my worries, you know what I mean?
但我觉得没有办法,需要付出的代价嘛,虽然你不愿意
But there’s nothing I can do. This is the price to be paid, whether you want it or not
但我现在想,我虽然有各种各样的信息,有各种预感
So I think, in spite of different things I hear, and all that I anticipate
我还是不敢相信
I refuse to believe it
这个国家,真的会把没有危害性的我
That this country might actually do such things to me
真弄成这样?有时候我也怀疑
Me who poses no threat. Sometimes I wonder
但我现在得到的信息、预感就是这样
But what I hear confirms what I suspect
然后呢我就考虑到,我要生存下去
And I think about how I’ll survive
生存然后才能给自己的民族做事儿
And by surviving, what I can do for my people
忍气吞声,是不是啊
So I bite my tongue, right?
所以现在就是这样,什么事儿都可能发生
So that’s what it’s like know:  anything could happen
但有时候也想,不可能吧
But sometimes I think, there’s no way
不可能那么卑鄙,再卑鄙也不能那样吧
Surely, nothing that abhorrent could happen
还是一种,人家说我是幻想吧,对政府
Or, people say it’s just my wishful thinking
哎,它在改变呀有些东西……
That the government could ever change…

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Updates / Related

» 充分保障被告人诉讼权利, CPBS, Sept 23, 2014
» Spokesperson’s Remarks, FMPRC, July 30/31, 2014
» 外交部回应, Sina, Aug 1, 2014
» “与…海外媒体关系甚密”, Huanqiu, Jan 18, 2014

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